Recorded in the spellings of Elder and Elders, and sometimes, although incorrectly confused with Alder, this is a medieval English surname. It originally described an older person usually a father or brother, who had the same name as a later addition, who may in his turn have been called 'Junior'. Sometimes to make sure that a particular family baptismal name was perpetuated, at a time when early death was the norm, several sons would be given the same name, usually their fathers name. In Yorkshire the form was to call the person 'Senior', and this is now a popular surname throughout that region.'Elder' or the patronymic 'Elders' a short form of Elderson, is recorded more generally than 'Senior' throughout England, whilst the opposing 'Junior' is of a similar date, Robert Junior being recorded in Lincoln in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, but is now a very rare surname. In this case the early recordings include such diverse forms as Hugo le Heldere, in the Curia Regis rolls for the county of Hertfordshire in the year 1212, whilst Ricardus le Elder, appears in the Priory Rolls for Yorkshire in 1379, showing that both Senior and Elder were used in that region. A later more conventional recording is that of Thomas Elder, who married Jane Gibbs, at St James church, Clerkenwell, London, in 1648. This was in the last year of the reign of King Charles 1st of England, shortly to be executed in Whitehall, on January 30th 1649.
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